on 18 July 2008
Songwriters Roger Manning Jr and Jason Falkner formed Jellyfish in the late 80's and, after just 2 critically lauded albums, split the American band and dissapeared. Whilst both still continue to record and release solo albums it's Bellybutton, and it's follow up Spilt Milk, with which the two built their reputation as cult powerpop gods.
Bellybutton is the sound of Wings, Beatles, Queen, Squeeze and Badfinger reworked and revamped for the early 90's. The influence of these bands runs through every track on the record and, propelled along by lashings of vocal harmonies, smart lyrics and gorgeous melodies, there really isn't a bad song on it.
'The King Is Half Undressed' and the bouncy 'Baby's Coming Back' were both minor UK hits but deserved much better,'Bedspring Kiss' is the kind of beautifully constructed ballad that Macca would kill for and 'Now She Knows She's Wrong' is a great uptempo rocker. The real pleasure is in the detail - the Penny Lane references on 'I Wanna Stay Home' and the lyrics - 'She dots her i's with a smiley face/a work of art/in all but taste' - Chris Difford would approve.
Bellybutton received the kind of rave reviews from the music press that should have ensured massive sales and sent their collective star into orbit. However it would take another 3 years before Britpop would kick in and Jellyfish's Beatley retro sound would become fashionable once more. By that time of course the band were gone.
Bellybutton is corker of a record and if you like Crowded House, The Feeling and the aforementioned Fabs then this will be the best investment you'll make all year. Classic stuff.
on 26 February 2007
I stumbled across Jellfish completely by accident, they were supporting INXS at Wembley stadium, July 91, and performed a set that totally blew me away, with not a note out of tune nor a beat missed they performed the whole of what I was to discover was the Bellybutton album.
After being mesmerised I had to buy the album and was not disappointed, 10 tracks of pop perfection, elements of The Beatles, The Beach boys and a measure of Queen, Bellybutton is tonic for the ears.
Sadly Jellyfish were not to pleasure the world of music for long, but the glorious music lives on and can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, a true and rare treat for any fan of great music.
on 3 March 2015
As a Jellyfish fan from the beginning, this album means so much to me. I love every single song and to complete my collection I thought I'd better buy this as it's remastered and has all the extra tracks (note however, all the extra tracks are on the fan club boxset ).
So why only four stars you ask?
As I was listening to "I wanna stay home" I thought I was going mad, did they really snip a few bars from the intro?
Yes, they did. As another reviewer posted, this makes no sense. Omnivore have got some explaining to do, as butchered tracks are not what Jellyfish fans want, or expect quite frankly. (As an extra edit, from the comments of another reviewer, it seems that they have used a edited promo version instead of the album version, but this to me is still inexcusable!).
on 21 June 2012
I cannot fault the music on this release, a 5 star offering for sure. Beware with the 2012 vinyl release that A: The picture used by Amazon is for the limited initial run and shows the 'Tri-Fold' sleeve which is no longer available and B: This album has not been remastered and like it's sister release, Spilt Milk, is cut from the original masters and therefore, any sound quality issues that existed on the original vinyl release are still present on this 180gm repressing. Can't fault the packaging either, just the fact that the sound quality doesn't do this release any justice and therefore loses a star. See my review for Spilt Milk for a slightly more in-depth analysis!!
on 25 March 2011
A hot summers day in July 1991 brought thousands to Wembley Stadium to watch INXS play the gig of their lives. Twenty years later the memories of that day are as vivid as if it were only last weekend. Amongst the other bands playing were a little known ensemble called Jellyfish. Few of the audience had heard of them and when they were announced a decision had to be made, shall I go to the loo or stay and listen. Thankfully I decided that my bladder had to wait as, apart from INXS, they stole the show with their cheeky little songs. The album is fantastic and a joy to listen to. McFly covered one of the songs, Baby's Coming Back, a few years ago and didn't do it justice. So if you are looking for a nice, uncomplicated bunch of songs to listen to that will make you forget about any worries you may have for an hour or so then I would urge you to buy this album.
on 7 January 2008
Just stunning. This album is a masterpiece. Witty lyrics, fantastic songs, beautiful melodies & harmonies, great instrumentation & arranging, superb playing and an overall amazing production. Its like the best bits of the beatles, queen, elo, the beach boys and supertramp all rolled into one. Whilst Noel Gallagher was trying to be a beatle, he'd have killed for songs this good. It is the album by which all other powerpop bands should be measured by and one of the most criminally overlooked albums ever. No duds, no duffers, just 45 minutes or so of pure genius. It will make you feel good about life, and to be frank, if you dont own this album then I honestly feel sorry for you. Buy it now.....and you want stop talking about it........
on 1 November 2002
The songs of Jellyfish are fabulously written, undulating wonderfully throughout. Each tells a story in a very modern way -the band are like a Californian Crowded House or '(Beach)Boys to Men' - wonderfully melodic, seriously slick production but not overly-stage-managed. There is space aplenty for dramatic lyrics to burst through - "this vodka does a memory clear, though it's too hard to imagine what these tears are for", and all in an upbeat pop song - great juxtaposition, high class.
I saw Jellyfish play live at the Town and Country Club in London in late Summer 1991 - what a gig. 4 guys standing in a line in front of the curtain, the drummer played standing up with just hihats, snare, floor tom and bass drum, and then proceeded to sing everything - blew my mind and they were incredibly tight. It was all over too soon, but thankfully 'this stubborn memory hadn't faded' when I wrote this and so I'm off to have another listen - buy it NOW!
I recently bought the edition with the 5 live tracks - hear their version of Paul McCartney's 'Someone's knocking at the door' into 'That is why' to know just how good they were.
on 19 September 2015
One of my favourite bands and albums ever. Still stunning after all these years. Omitted one star though due to the heinous mistake of including an edited version of I wanna stay home. For some unfathomable reason (ie someone messed up) the US single edit is included, its had about 10 crucial seconds taken out of the intro. Why would you bother editing 10 seconds out in the first place?
Anyway despite that its still stunning.
on 2 September 2013
This is one of my favourite albums of all time. This purchase was to replace a lost CD as I don't play mp3's on my home system. It's tragic that the band just made two albums. This it tight, perfect pop with interesting and intelligent lyrics and great musicianship. Still sounds fresh today.
on 26 February 2014
This is terrific stuff, plenty clever melodies with the well documented influences of McCartneyish Beatles, the Beach Boys etc. Andy Sturmer sounds quite Lennonish vocally, especially on tracks like 'The King is Half Undressed' (probably my favourite) and there are many highlights such as 'All I want is Everything' which if memory serves is not unlike the sound of the band Cast with its thumping beat, 'Now She Knows She's Wrong' and 'She Still Loves Him'.
If you've ever wondered about this band, as I did for 20 years or so, give this a go. There is a version with 6 extra tracks on it, some of which are on the 'Jellyfish Best' album. My only regret is that I did not buy this sooner.
Get it if you can.